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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Newark Mayor Cory Booker Objects to President's Attacks on Bain Capital; Government Medical Panel Recommends Less Early Testing for Prostate Cancer; Who's Paying for Hawaiian Escape?; Photographing Joplin

Aired May 22, 2012 - 07:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thank you, ladies. Welcome, everybody.

Our "Starting Point" this morning, the battle over Bain and the way Mitt Romney did business. Newark, New Jersey mayor, Cory Booker, a key Obama supporter, gets mad, says the GOP is twisting his words.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR CORY BOOKER, (D) NEWARK, NEW JERSEY: I am upset. I've been taken out of context.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Whose campaign is going to take the biggest hit? We'll take a look at that.

Also, advice that might be a little hard to understand. A federal panel says early detection of one type of cancer might not be a good thing. It's something every man in this country and every woman who knows a man in this country needs to pay attention to this morning.

Plus, aloha, taxpayers. That's right, some federal judges are under fire for planning a million-dollar trip to Hawaii, the taxpayers are paying for it.

And one small step into the future. Liftoff of the first private vision to the international space station.

It's Tuesday, May 22nd and STARTING POINT begins right now.

(MUSIC)

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: We'll get him some by the end of the day. That's Roland Martin's play list because he's doing a tutorial on go-go.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Roller skates and short dresses?

O'BRIEN: The music never stops and keeps going. You really need to get some go-go on your iPod. Welcome, everybody. Welcome to our panel this morning. Anyone having allergies?

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: He's going to be replacing you in one moment. Roland Martin as you can tell is back. He is the host of "Washington Watch with Roland Martin." Notice the music keeps going, going, going.

MARTIN: That's right.

O'BRIEN: Nice to have you back. And Will Cain is a columnist for theblaze.com.

MARTIN: No go-go at all.

O'BRIEN: He's getting the go-go. It's creeping up on him.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Let's talk about our STARTING POINT this morning, which is the battle over Bain. We were discussing this yesterday, Will Cain.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Right.

O'BRIEN: Attacks on Mitt Romney, the businessman, and whether or not that is fair game. Newark, New Jersey, Mayor Cory Booker leading all the shows yesterday, a Obama supporter, surrogate, rising star in the Democratic Party firing back after there was an ad from the Romney campaign using Cory Booker's words against president Obama. Here's what Mayor Booker originally said over the weekend.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR CORY BOOKER, (D) NEWARK, NEW JERSEY: This kind of stuff is nauseating to me on both sides. It's nauseating to the American public. Enough is enough. Stop attacking private equity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: So he was talking about negative campaigning overall he mentioned private equity, he mentioned reverend wright. Here is how the ad magically looked. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOOKER: Look at the totality of Bain Capital's record. They've done a lot to support businesses and grow businesses.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even Obama's own supporters have had enough.

BOOKER: It's nauseating to the American public. Enough is enough.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Wait a minute, I didn't hear the "on both sides." Huh, I think someone edited that out. Anyway, after seeing that last night mayor booker said the GOP crossed the line. He didn't like the way that it was spun. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOOKER: Taken out of context, I've been used to report a cynicism. If there was any honor Mitt Romney would have come out like Obama and say citizens united decision will hurt our democracy, he would have come out and saying the negativity on our side has got to stop. If he wanted to stand with me he would say I stand with Cory Booker. Stop the super PAC money and the negative campaigning and talk about the issues.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: You know what I love about Mayor Booker? There are not a lot of elected officials who took about honor. He really literally genuinely talks about sort of honor and how people address each other and honor in how you do a campaign ad.

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: And I think something that was quite honorable he did in the first place was speak honestly about the role of private equity, because what had happened with this debate is private equity guys had been pushed into a corner and the industry was having to defend itself. This really started as a vulture capitalist, corporations are bad, private equity guys are bad. Is this a riff against capitalism? And that's changed as this narrative has developed. Now people are pulling back saying maybe it's not private equity that's bad but maybe that Mitt Romney didn't create as many jobs in private equity as he was running on. So the argument and narrative shifted which I think means that President Obama's team is a little bit back on their heels and the Romney people have sort of won the argument.

O'BRIEN: Isn't the line that's critical there the difference between venture capital and vulture capital? Ultimately to me, I don't think anybody's arguing should America be a capitalist nation. We're generally not having that conversation. We're having the conversation if you take companies and grow business and provide jobs, which everyone is running on, that's a good thing, if, in fact, you don't necessarily do that, you take companies and buy them and provide opportunity for your shareholders which sometimes provides jobs and sometimes kills jobs, isn't that not necessarily something you want to necessarily run on?

CAIN: If this is a distinction President Obama wants to run on I suggest he's making a grave mistake. And he need not look to me and Margaret to point that out. Cory Booker was not alone. He's been joined by Steve Ratner, Harold Ford, who ran for Democratic senator in Tennessee.

O'BRIEN: They're all in the ad by the way.

CAIN: They are because they had moments of honesty, moments of clarity where they said things like Cory Booker, I have to say I'm not about to sit here and indict private equity. President Obama said this is what the election is about.

MARTIN: Let's be clear, when we get to November, let's say September and October, you're not going to be hearing the voices of Cory Booker. Mitt Romney will run them. You know who you're going to hear? The people who said I had a child in college, they came in, stripped this company down, they ran the debt up and destroyed this town, those are the voices you're going to hear and trust me the voters out there are going to be saying, hmm, I'm listening to that person as opposed to what Harold Ford said or Cory Booker says.

I would say the honorable thing for Cory Booker is stop giving interviews because you're providing more oxygen to the story and simply let them duke it out, because it's all about him. People are going to deal with the reality of some folks in private equity building up massive amounts of debt, taking over companies to enrich themselves and not focus on the worker.

CAIN: You make money by staying in business. This argument shows a fundamental ignorance of capitalism. Jobs are a by-product of profits. You seek profits, you produce jobs. If it was simply about creating jobs, pass out the brooms and shovels. We've all got work to do.

MARTIN: When you're broke and you don't have a job trust me those voices ring louder. And there are more folks who lost their jobs as a result of this than the people on Wall Street who are trying to do exactly what you describe. This is about votes and winning. This is not about a 101 class on economics.

CAIN: I'm talking about capitalism.

MARTIN: I'm talking about people who have no job.

HOOVER: Great. So for the people who have no jobs, this election in November they're going to talk about which candidate will be able to make the economy into an economy where private businesses can grow and thrive in America and create more jobs.

O'BRIEN: That brings us back to the original premise behind that ad and ultimately what this is about. Mitt Romney would say as a businessman who worked in private equity, I am that person.

CAIN: I get it.

O'BRIEN: President Obama would say as a runs of the country for the last x number of years I look at what has been done through Bain Capital and I think that's a bad thing. Ergo I am the person to run the country. Those are the two competing arguments, isn't that why the conversation is relevant, why having the discussion about Bain is relevant?

CAIN: We can all agree the Bain conversation --

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: We have to get to other top stories this morning with Christine Romans. Good morning.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Boldly going where no private spacecraft has gone before. A rocket built by the commercial space flight company Space X blasting an unmanned capsule, headed to the International Space Station, the world's first space station supply flights. NASA administrator Charles Bolden says this is a giant leap toward not having to rely on the Russian space program after retiring our own fleet.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHARLES BOLDEN, NASA ADMINISTRATOR: The United States will once again be in the lead, will be providing our own vehicles to take our own astronauts and cargo to the international space station.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: The U.S. is losing its top diplomat in Afghanistan. Administration officials say Afghan ambassador Ryan Crocker will step down this summer. News of that departure comes hours after the conclusion of the NATO summit in Chicago which produced a formal agreement on the NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan. There was no deal, though, on getting Pakistan to reopen supply routes into Afghanistan.

And 43 Catholic groups are suing President Obama over contraception. The University of Notre Dame and the archdiocese of New York are hoping to block the law that requires them to provide contraception coverage. Catholic groups say the revision doesn't go far enough and the law violates separate of church and state.

This wasn't exactly the perfect crime, just a dumb guy in a wig trying to rob a casino. A man scheduled to appear in court today after police say he tried to pepper spray a blackjack dealer and grab $115,000 in chips at the Bellagio in Vegas. Police say casino staff wrestled him down. His wig and sunglasses fell off during the struggle while a suspected accomplice got away.

He hung on the side of the rocks a 250 drop below for eight hours. This morning a 13-year-old boy is safe and sound. He was hiking with his brother and father above Wallace Falls when he slipped and went over a small waterfall and about to go over the big one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was thinking this cannot be real. I was like help me. And she went and tried to grab me but we had like that much space between our hands. I was like in standing position with my hand up, it was like, I'm not going to die. I think I am one of the luckiest people ever.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: That was the luckiest and unluckiest day of that kid's life. As a parent, unbelievable, eight hours waiting to get him, bravo to everyone who got him out of there.

O'BRIEN: Amazing. Good news for that little kid. Thanks, Christine, appreciate it.

Some news everybody needs to hear this morning, a recommendation that one of the most basic, routine medical tests for men might not be worth having. PSA tests, screens for the second most deadly form of cancer in men, prostate cancer, and roughly 28,000 men will die from prostate cancer this year. But the U.S. preventative services task force is recommending men don't take the test, they say it could do more harm than good. Dr. William Catalona is a medical director of the urological research foundation, he joins us this morning. So this task force says don't take the test. You're the guy who created the test. Why are they wrong?

DR. WILLIAM CATALONA, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, UROLOGICAL RESEARCH FOUNDATION: Well, I think it's really a misguided recommendation and just let me remind you this is the same task force that a couple years ago recommended against mammography in younger women and the frequency of mammography in older women. During the PSA era the death rate has dropped 42 percent, so prostate cancer is the second leading cause of death among men for cancer and the PSA test has dramatically reduced prostate cancer deaths.

O'BRIEN: They argue in this that people who don't have the disease are actually flagged in the blood test, and also there are people who do have the disease, but it's such a slow moving cancer that they'll go ahead and have some kind of treatment that actually could be worse than if you just did nothing and let the cancer move so slowly you might die of natural causes before you die of prostate cancer. Those are kind of their arguments.

CATALONA: Well, the test is not perfect. It's not like a pregnancy test where when it's positive, the patient always has cancer and when it's negative, the patient never has cancer. There are false positives and false negatives. But doctors can work through these for the patients and identify patients who really have an aggressive cancer that needs to be created in almost every instance.

And I just remind you that prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths. There is a man who dies of prostate cancer every 15 minutes in this country.

O'BRIEN: Are these statistics wrong? Because what I heard is as a result of the PSA test, one man will avoid death, one will develop a blood -- and treatment, I should add -- will develop a blood clot in the legs or lungs, two men have heart attacks, up to 40 men will be left impotent or unable to control their urination. Somebody has treatment, there's one person will avoid death out of 1,000, but 40 left with a major medical problem they'll be dealing with, and that's why the risks aren't worth it. Are those statistics inaccurate?

CATALONA: I think they misinterpreted the risk. The whole issue is you have risks on one hand and benefits on the other and do the risks outweigh the benefits, and they came to the conclusion that it did. But I really think they misinterpreted the data and I think the benefits greatly outweigh the risk, because it cuts the prostate cancer death rate in half in this country. And for the second leading cancer killer among men, you know, if we were to stop PSA testing over the next decade or two, the prostate cancer death rate in this country would double or triple. There's really nothing out there other than the PSA test to detect prostate cancer in its earliest stages when it's curable.

O'BRIEN: And of course black men are most at risk to are prostate cancer by large margins.

MARTIN: Doc I'm going to interview Dr. Terry Mason, Cook County on Tom's show in a minute.

O'BRIEN: You're not promoting Tom's show on my show.

MARTIN: I have to go, but 80 percent of the folks who get prostate cancer can't be detected by the rectal exam. Men are frankly in limbo as a result of this decision.

CATALONA: Well, that's absolutely correct and as you mentioned, African-American men have a 50 percent higher incidence of prostate cancer and 200 percent higher death rate and the PSA testing has never been adequately studied in African-American men. This study has been done in all men of all races, and I think it's a misguided and unjustified recommendation by this government task force.

One of the main problems is there were no cancer specialists on this task force. There were no urologists, medical oncologists, or radiation oncologist and most of the people on the task force were population scientists who basically look at data. And this really becomes sort of abstract data to them and they don't see the suffering that men with prostate cancer go through.

O'BRIEN: So if you were talking to a man who is trying to decide do I get the blood test or not get the blood test because of the task force, you tell them do it?

CATALONA: I think every man should at least get one blood test early in life in their 40s to determine their risk, and then I think they should see whether they're high risk or low risk patient. And then I think they should discuss it with their doctor and discuss the risks and benefits and decide for themselves whether they want to have prostate cancer screening.

O'BRIEN: Dr. William Catalona, thank you, sir. Appreciate your time this morning.

CATALONA: Thank you very much.

O'BRIEN: That would be my allergies.

CAIN: A segment for me, on the horizon for me and I'm dreading that prostate exam. Now I don't know if I have to get it.

MARGARET: You should get it. It's a terrible recommendation. It's a preventative measure.

O'BRIEN: Get the test and decide what to do next. The test itself isn't causing any of the problems. It's the treatment.

CAIN: All right, Soledad, I'll get the test.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: God, do I have to do everything for you, Will? Still ahead on STARTING POINT -- my gosh I can't get through the allergies. Do that for me, go ahead.

CAIN: Coming up on STARTING POINT, what happens when toddlers zone out on an iPad? I can tell you because I have two of them.

O'BRIEN: IPads or toddlers?

CAIN: Both.

Federal judges are having a million-dollar getaway in Hawaii on your tab. Senator Chuck Grassley will join us on why it may be time to end the conferences all together.

O'BRIEN: Not so easy, huh, will?

CAIN: It's hard. You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: That's me, that's my choice, Wyclef, "Sweetest Girl" off of my playlist, shout out to the entire country of Haiti where I was with my daughters volunteering in an orphanage, putting those children to work. Some are rebuilding, it's very, very slow but parts of the country sore beautiful, other parts still struggle to allocate. I love New Orleans, I love Haiti. I root for people coming back.

In the paper this is morning, who wants to start for me?

HOOVER: I'm going to go because I stole let's story. He has two children and two iPads, and "Wall Street Journal," what happens to toddlers when they zone out watching the iPad, not the television. We've known for years and years kids you put them in front of a television and not so scientific, it fries their brains. What happens when you look at the iPad? Apparently a well-designed iPad app encouraging interactivity and maybe encourages and stimulates the synaptic connections happening in young children's brains. The problem is we don't have a lot of research, iPads have only been out two years, scientists haven't gotten their hands on how the kids interact.

O'BRIEN: The problem is when you try to wrestle the iPad out of their little, fat fingers.

CAIN: Their little, fat fingers?

O'BRIEN: A small child, that's good for a toddler. It's really hard, they don't want to give it up because they love to be entertained like this. That's the problem. CAIN: We finally found the of switch on the kids called the iPad, and it turns out it's good for them, awesome, that's great. I'm so happy and relieved.

O'BRIEN: Keep telling yourself.

CAIN: This has been soaked in guilt for years but now I know I'm educating them. Research shows video games increase response time, quick thinking so all this technology we've been so scared about, not so bad.

O'BRIEN: What you got?

CAIN: Mine is also good for you. Finds out, turns out Altria the tobacco company is coming out with nicotine lozenge.

O'BRIEN: You were a smoker?

CAIN: Not a smoker, but coming out with nicotine lozenge called verve, a product that will give you nicotine without tobacco. Nicotine has negative health benefits, a little bit of high blood pressure but the cancer causing stuff is the tobacco. There's no known link. You can get your nicotine free of the cancer.

O'BRIEN: We need to bring this back around to normalcy.

CAIN: Science.

O'BRIEN: What paper is this, "The Daily News," Cynthia Herbert, 42-year-old teacher in Brownsville, Brooklyn, has a heart attack in front of her 11-year-olds in her class. She passes out, they run to get help, and the FDNY shows up and four guys revive her and rescue her and today she'll be honoring Raul Perez, Andre Pierre Lui, and Howard Henry will be honored for saving her life. She also credits her 11-year-old students for helping her save her life.

HOOVER: Go FDNY. Those guys are heroes!

O'BRIEN: There she is.

MARTIN: Pay raise, pay raise.

O'BRIEN: For the fire department? You don't get to walk in at the end.

MARTIN: I'm trying to get the fire department a pay raise.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead -- moving along, still ahead with STARTING POINT, Will Smith, have you seen will smith?

CAIN: I've seen him slap a guy.

O'BRIEN: Not the slapping thing but the fresh prince, my goodness so funny, takes us right back to the late 1980s I believe with the rendition of his hit theme song. We're going to show that to you in a moment. And the Drug Enforcement Administration agency now involved in the prostitution scandal, the story that will not go away.

CAIN: The DEA is in on it?

O'BRIEN: Apparently.

MARTIN: Move along.

O'BRIEN: We're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Mr. Will Smith kicking it old school. "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air" rapid his theme song to the famous sitcom from the early 1990s with a little help from the crowd. And 22 years later can come up with all the words listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(SINGING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: It's amazing he can remember it but I think the audience does not miss a beat as well. And 22 years later he's able to --

MARTIN: That song and show made him a ton of money. He remembers every word.

(LAUGHTER)

CAIN: There was a fascinating article on how Will Smith became a movie star after "Fresh Prince of Bel Air," what creates big time blockbuster movies, aliens, battles, love interest and every movie he's picked has been designed to be a huge blockbuster.

O'BRIEN: He's smart. More actors should do that.

MARTIN: When they were in Cannes they were doing a publicity thing and Angelina Jolie didn't want to get on some kind of ride or whatever, and he said, baby, you want to be on another blockbuster, better get your butt on that boat and he said -- and just go with it. Because he was trying to explain to her, look --

O'BRIEN: This is how it works.

MARTIN: -- big movies, this is what we do.

O'BRIEN: This is how it works.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT --

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: She takes -- she --

O'BRIEN: I can see how this morning is going to go. People who have allergies, I need you to stay with me. Million-dollar tropical retreat, that's where they're going in Hawaii, judges of the Ninth Circuit, guess what, taxpayers will be paying for it. We'll tell you why Senator Grassley is so mad about that.

And a major party foul, 55,000 pounds of beer -- I didn't know we measure beer in pounds -- wasted.

You're watching STARTING POINT. We'll tell you what happens. Back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: And welcome back to STARTING POINT, everybody. Let's get started with the headlines.

Christine Romans has a look for us.

Hey, Christine, good morning.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning again, Soledad.

The Colombia prostitute scandal grows bigger. A congressional source tells CNN the three Drug Enforcement Administration agents are now being investigated for allegedly hiring prostitutes in Cartagena. The incidents in question apparently unrelated to a recent Secret Service scandal during President Obama's trip to Colombia last month.

Senator Susan Collins of Maine says one incident under investigation allegedly involves DEA agents meeting up with Colombian prostitutes in an agents' Cartagena apartment.

One year ago today a deadly tornado ripped through Joplin, Missouri, killing 161 people, destroying 8,000 homes and businesses. President Obama gave the commencement at Joplin High School yesterday. He called the students an inspiration.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You're from Joplin, and you're from America. No matter how tough times get, you'll always be tougher. And no matter what life throws at you, you will be ready.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Volunteers from all over the country in Joplin this morning helping with continued rebuilding effort one year later.

"Minding Your Business" now, U.S. stock futures are up this morning, indicating -- well, slightly higher open perhaps to the markets, when things get under way but the Facebook IPO, wow, quickly losing steam. Company stock dropped about 11 percent yesterday. Facebook is down almost 20 percent since it went public on Friday last week and it's not just investors losing money. CEO Mark Zuckerberg, he's lost more than $2 billion so far in the shares he owns, a paper loss, yes, many raising questions about the pricing of the IPO, if it was too high and if they issued too many shares overall.

New this morning, if you bought shares in Facebook you're no longer be getting a paper stock certificate as well. Worth noting, though, that this is the trend now. Apple, Intel, Microsoft no longer offer paper certificates either but some have been hoping for a little piece of history.

A huge trading loss for JPMorgan Chase could be as high as $7 billion. That's according to several traders who spoke to CNN Money. The drop in the stock market overall hasn't helped the bank either since some of its risky bets were tied to the market doing better.

The S&P 500 is down about 3.5 percent since last Thursday. It's important to know that this is just the latest read on the loss and could grow even bigger.

Party foul, beer flowing all over the place in Daytona Beach but this was no spring break keg party. A tractor trailer filled with bottles of Heineken and Amstel Light -- in case you wondered -- overturned on Interstate 95. It took workers about seven hours to clean up the beer and all that broken glass. The beer truck driver told police that another tractor trailer swerved in front of him causing him to lose control of his big rig.

Amstel Light and Heineken. I love little details in some of these stories.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Yes. A big huge loss for the nation and the world today.

Christine, thank you.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, the allergies talking to us.

I want to show you this artwork is amazing. It's a powerful new project using photos of those who survived that Joplin tornado, who then take a sharpie and write messages on their bodies. The founder of the project is going to join us this morning. It's called Dear World, a message to the world. Dear World.

And heading to Hawaii on the taxpayer's dime? Why you're paying for federal judges to take a trip to the big island. I hope they have a good time. Senator Chuck Grassley is mad about it. He wants an investigation. He's going to join us up next to talk about that. You're watching STARTING POINT. Short break, we're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: That would be All American Rejects, "Happy Endings" on Margaret's playlist.

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: All American Rejects, baby.

O'BRIEN: We should mention that you can check out the playlist at CNN.com/startingpoint. I'm also now back on Twitter if you want to see pictures from my vacation of my kids.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: @Soledad_Obrien because I'm back with a vengeance.

MARTIN: Hangover like photos?

O'BRIEN: Pictures of my kids.

HOOVER: What's wrong with you?

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: I'm trying to get people to go check her Twitter feed. They're like, hey, hey.

O'BRIEN: No, no, no.

MARTIN: OK. I'm just trying --

O'BRIEN: Pictures of my kids with Haitian orphans. We went to an orphanage.

MARTIN: OK. Just trying.

O'BRIEN: Anyway, let's talk about our tax dollars at work because they could be paying for another government vacation, this time for a group of federal judges.

According to its Web site, judges and staffers from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals are going to Hawaii. Hawaiian getaway, this August, it's their Annual Judicial Conference that's being held. The resort offers sport fishing, snorkeling, Zumba dance classes -- I've never taken those --

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: They're very good.

O'BRIEN: It's all something that's called the "Aloha Experience." Could cost more than half a million dollars in the accommodation alone. So a spokesperson from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals says tax dollars are not going to pay for any of the recreational activities. People have to fund those themselves, but two top lawmakers would like to see now a breakdown of the expenses and one of them is Republican senator, Chuck Grassley, of the state of Iowa. He joins thus morning.

Nice to see you, sir. Thanks for being with us. We certainly appreciate it. Why are you focused on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals?

SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: Well, because of the publicity about going to Maui, about the fact the Judge Gibbons, who's chairman of the Budget Committee for the Judicial Conference, says that we've got to watch our dollars. We've already been cut 5 percent by the Congress and the fact that there are other ways of holding conference and social networking environment we're in now, it ought to be very easy to do without traveling to expensive places like Maui.

O'BRIEN: But --

GRASSLEY: And then the bottom line --

O'BRIEN: But -- I'm sorry.

GRASSLEY: I'm sorry.

O'BRIEN: Forgive me for interrupting you but, you know, I mean, the Ninth Circuit Court includes the state of Hawaii, so it's not like everybody is getting up and going to Hawaii. The Ninth Circuit includes California, Washington, Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada and Oregon.

So to some degree, and most of the Circuit Courts do trips, maybe not to Hawaii, but they definitely do a trip. Is this picking on them because they're sort of overwhelmingly liberal?

GRASSLEY: Well, I think, first of all, you mentioned this big Ninth Circuit, a lot of us in Congress think that ought to be broken up into two circuits because it's too big and like you say probably too liberal for the rest of the region, but beyond that --

O'BRIEN: That's neither here nor there on that one.

GRASSLEY: Yes.

O'BRIEN: Talk about the conference.

GRASSLEY: Neither here nor there. I think another thing, though, is we've never really had judges step forward and defend this meeting, and I think if you look at some of the things that are going on at the meeting, you'd really question whether or not this sort of large meeting costing maybe $1 million and is really necessary considering some of the things that are on the agenda.

O'BRIEN: Well, like for what? Like what?

GRASSLEY: Well, I think maybe -- teaching how to use an iPad as an example. There's a conference on that. As just one example. But you know half of the time it's spent in recreation as well. Now whether they pay for it themselves or not, you know, the time is pretty valuable regardless.

O'BRIEN: Senator, hold on a second because I see Will Cain and Roland Martin squirming in their seats and I think what is disagreement with you, sir.

Roland, we'll start with you and then we'll go to Will.

MARTIN: Congressman, this is a state --

O'BRIEN: Senator.

MARTIN: I'm sorry -- Senator, this is a state in the United States of America. If they have this conference in Iowa, would you be complaining? Aren't we sitting here being critical of an American state? Don't they have the right to have conferences, judicial conferences in states like Hawaii? This is not Jamaica or Aruba. This is the United States of America.

GRASSLEY: OK. Well, first of all you've got the GSA scandal and that big conference, what people consider a waste of taxpayer's money. You've got the judge that I've already quoted saying that the budget of the whole judicial branch is under strain and has to be looked out. You haven't had judges come and defend this conference.

And the other thing is, if it was in my state or any place else, I think it's legitimate to say that judges have to meet sometimes in conference, but I think that you also got to look at the cost of it as well, and I'll bet you, if you had the Eight Circuit, which Iowa is part of the Eight Circuit, you wouldn't be spending $1 million to have a conference.

WILL CAIN, THEBLAZE.COM: Seems to me that's the issue. I'll ask it to you, Margaret. It seems to me that's the issue. Should we be having conferences in particular? Should they -- that's the question. Because you can certainly have one in Hawaii, it's part of the Ninth Circuit. What more -- I see here the hotel is going to cost, like, 250 bucks. It cost 200 in Kansas City. What's the big deal here?

HOOVER: Isn't this an optics question as well in a time of shrinking deficits, debts, a time of austerity, a time where many Americans over 8 percent have been out of work for a very long time? What are the optics of a government conference, flying people to the other side of the world, literally the furthest state away, the Ninth Circuit --

(CROSSTALK)

HOOVER: if they learned anything from the GSA scandal, we know that Las Vegas has perfectly good conference rooms and perfectly good --

MARTIN: Wait a minute. But Senator Grassley -- Senator Grassley, will you then also demand that all congressional junkets be abolished so that taxpayers are not paying for any member of Congress traveling around the world, not to states in America but to other countries? That's also costing taxpayers.

GRASSLEY: OK. I think what you need to look at is there's already been some decisions by Senator Reid, the majority leader, and Senator McConnell, the Republican leader, to cut back on the number of travel of members of Congress as well, and just last week we saw reflected for 58 years, there were delegations between Canada and the United States once a year, maybe amounting to five or six senators and maybe 10 or 15 House members, meetings with members of parliament, that was cut way back by having people from the Canadian parliament come down here last week.

And that's one example of efforts by the two leaders of the Senate to save taxpayers money.

O'BRIEN: You know, Senator Grassley, we appreciate your time this morning. Thank you for being with us.

I got to say I think in a day where you could video-conference in a down economy, I get it, and Hawaii is part of the Ninth Circuit, so that is not my issue, but I think the optics is one thing. You really could understand, you know, maybe for a couple of years you do the video-conferencing.

MARTIN: Also you have -- you have resorts in Hawaii, those are also jobs. I'm simply saying.

O'BRIEN: I get it. No, I see it.

MARTIN: And also he didn't answer the question, he said cut back, I said abolish. And so bottom line is, that's still a state. I think it's very interesting how even with Las Vegas and Nevada, how we do discriminate against states where tourism is a significant part of their economy.

HOOVER: Yes, but do we want government tax dollars to fly every single participant all the way to Hawaii? That's more --

MARTIN: That's a state.

O'BRIEN: We could -- you two could argue that after the commercial.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, the moment you've been waiting for is here. Legendary anchorman Ron Burgundy is back.

CAIN: Yes.

MARTIN: Whoa.

O'BRIEN: That's a first sneak peek.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: The new -- yes. Wow. Wow. Also this morning we're going to take you to Joplin, Missouri. The folks there using words to define their struggles and their hopes as they try to rebuild their city and their lives. The photographer behind these powerful images is going to join us next.

You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment.

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O'BRIEN: Robert Fogarty is a photographer who's drawn to disasters with the desire to show the spirit of communities that are rebounding after devastation so when Joplin, Missouri, was hit with a massive EF-5 tornado a year ago, he knew he had to go there and take some pictures. But he shows up and hands his subjects a sharpie and says write what you're feeling on any part of your body. And then he takes a picture of it. And the photos are some of the most amazing that I've ever seen.

The project is called Dear World because it's a message to the world and Robert Fogarty joins us now.

It's so great to see you. Thanks for being with us.

ROBERT FOGARTY, FOUNDER, DEAR WORLD: Thanks for having me.

O'BRIEN: So what I have loved about your project, I mean, look at some of these are just amazing, is it's really a way to combine a moving photo with a message from the subject of the photo. And I think it packs a lot of extra weight. Why did you go to Joplin?

FOGARTY: The project started in New Orleans so I photographed pretty much thousands of people who had gone through a similar experience of potentially losing something that mattered. So in keeping in line with what we felt in New Orleans, I thought, you know, we should start to do things in other communities that experience some struggle.

O'BRIEN: Joplin was that very place. And I want to talk about some of the individuals. There's a photo of a man carrying his son. The man's name is Bradley and his son is Brody.

FOGARTY: Yes.

O'BRIEN: And all it says -- can we show that photo -- is survive. Let show that first. Tell me the story of this dad and son.

FOGARTY: So "Survived" is Bradley and Brody German. And we took people out to the place of significance where they were one year ago today. So we took Bradley and Brody back to a spot just outside of St. John's Hospital which was hit pretty badly and --

O'BRIEN: Devastated in the tornado.

FOGARTY: Yes.

O'BRIEN: The little boy has an obvious massive scar that runs down his neck.

FOGARTY: Yes.

O'BRIEN: And he could have died. And he did not. What happened?

FOGARTY: So he -- Bradley and Brody and their family were at a house a few blocks away from St. John's and just he was -- he was hit with an object and really it was really bad, bad gash. So we took him and his father back to St. John's and had Bradley hold him in the same position that he held him. So he had to run Brody down to this hospital as the story goes. That hospital was just devastated though. So a surgeon there kind of patched him up and then they hopped into a back of a pickup truck and went over to the other hospital, Freeman Hospital, up the road in the back of a pickup.

So there are stories like that all over the place that we got to -- got to tell through this way.

O'BRIEN: I want to show another picture, Roland, then I'll let you jump in. Phillip Wilkinson. He's a plant operations manager at that hospital you're talking about. Tell me a little bit about him while we show his photo.

FOGARTY: So Phillip Wilkinson was an interesting story because we called St. John's and I thought, you know, we were going to get a story of a doctor or a nurse who is a hero. You know, a story of courage. Then they said you actually need to talk to our plant operations manager. And I found that --

O'BRIEN: He wrote faith and hope on his hands.

FOGARTY: Yes. Yes. And his story was so interesting because it wasn't a doctor or nurse that St. John's kind of says was a hero of the day.

O'BRIEN: What did he do?

FOGARTY: Phil went with a wrench and down to the boiler room because there's this massive his of the gas line that was exposed and he crawled through rubble and went and turned it off. So a lot of people retrospectively say, you know, a bigger, bigger part of this is if St. John's would have blown up because of a gas line and Phillip was the guy who went in and closed the line. So I thought that was a really great story.

MARTIN: Got to ask. How and why did you come up with this idea to do a sharpie and take photos?

FOGARTY: It's a good question. I was a journalism school graduate and I've always been fascinated by portraits and profiles and we're in such a highly shareable time in our society where we try and get as much as we can, as much information and content into one space. So I figured why don't we distill everything down to a person's story and message on their body.

O'BRIEN: Let me show one other picture while you're asking a question. It's Mark Norton and his son Will.

FOGARTY: Yes.

O'BRIEN: His nickname was Willdabeast. And that's what they wrote on his hand. Willdabeast. That young man was killed on his way home from his graduation ceremony.

FOGARTY: Right.

O'BRIEN: One of two students in a school was killed. Go ahead.

HOOVER: How much longer after the tornado did you take the photographs? Because, you know, the tragedy, the loss, the anger, the shock, you know, takes -- it takes a certain amount of time to get through. And so many of these messages actually seem to be optimistic and looking forward.

FOGARTY: Yes.

HOOVER: So what was timing?

FOGARTY: So we actually went -- this whole project was about commemorating today. So we went last month.

O'BRIEN: The one year anniversary.

FOGARTY: Yes. So this was really, I think -- I think all of us, I mean, we have anniversaries for a reason, right? It's a time to take a step back and reflect on what we're grateful for and the things that, you know, we might have gone a bad draw on. So I think when we went to Joplin we were pretty clear with them that it's like, you know, we want you to have something to say, to not only your community, but to the world about how you feel about this event that we can hopefully empathize with and sympathize with.

O'BRIEN: Which is why it's called Dear World.

FOGARTY: Yes.

O'BRIEN: And everybody who wants to check out your photographs, which are absolutely stunning, can go to Dear World --

FOGARTY: Dearworld.me.

O'BRIEN: Dot me. Thank you for coming in.

FOGARTY: Thank you so much for having me.

O'BRIEN: We appreciate it. Absolutely gorgeous.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, we're going to be talking about counterfeiters and counterfeit parts from China that have landed in the hands of the military. Is it a security threat? What's being done now? We'll take a look at that.

And President Obama and Mitt Romney go head to head over Bain Capital. Why the former governor's record is the number one issue for the Obama campaign.

You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back after this short break. Stay with us.

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